A Guide to Organizational Relationship Building 

Groups who have joined together for a common purpose are useful in increasing the sphere of influence needed to succeed in advocacy activities. One strategy the affiliate should engage in is to maintain and strengthen established relationships and to expand to other stakeholders listed as being either a potential ally or opponent. The primary reason to establish a coalition is that it allows an individual group the opportunity to gain more power and influence than it would have on its own through the act of networking. 

Networking provides a forum for sharing information and developing greater credibility. Some of the easiest forms of networking come naturally; so you may want to take advantage of them:

  • Find members within your affiliate society that have dual roles with other associations and solicit their help in working with other groups. 
  • It is possible that specific medical imaging disciplines may not participate in an affiliate society. This provides an immediate channel to bring other groups into the discussion and to solicit their support.
  • Identify other health care professionals that R.T.s work with that would be allies for an advocacy cause.
  • It might not make sense to jump right into building a relationship with an opponent. If this is the case, it is still a benefit to watch their activity from the sidelines. Affiliate leaders can do this by setting up RSS feeds on their website and monitoring Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter activity. Having a clear understanding of a rival organization's position on the issue being addressed is key to understanding if a relationship is possible.
  • Determine the goal of building a partnership with stakeholders:

    • What is the overall objective of the relationship?
    • Will the partner organizations share research and information?
    • Will the partner groups serve primarily to inform the public?
    • Will the partner organizations work together to mobilize other supporters?
    • Will the partnership campaign together on a particular issue? Will one partner take a lead role over the other?
    • How will the partnership raise money or determine financial contributions?
    • Will the partner organizations help their members achieve power?
    •  How will leadership from each group work together?
    • Will individual members of each partner organization add something to the group?

    By understanding other stakeholders' positions certain issues, it is easier to determine the best approach for building a relationship or avoiding confrontation.

    The following are characteristics of different types of partnerships affiliate societies and other stakeholder groups may develop:

    • Advisory: A partnership between organizations that provides suggestions and technical assistance on an issue.
    • In name only: Provides a visible show of support by publicly announcing that the organizations support a specific position or agenda. Often this may be enough to fight off threats and may not require groups to work together or share resources.
    • Networks: Loose-knit groups formed primarily to provide resources, communicate and share information.
    • Task forces: Groups of organizations united and working together to accomplish a specific task.

    Consider these ideas for building bonds with stakeholders:

    • Mutual speaking opportunities:Offer to speak to their group and invite them to speak to your affiliate members.
    •  Attending meetings and town-hall events together.
    • Inviting stakeholders to participate in facility tours or to attend stakeholders' events.
    • Learn when the organization has a change in the board of directors and welcome the new president to attend a board meeting or other meeting the affiliate is conducting.
    • Each partner organization should receive their fair share of credit and visibility if desired. 
    • Be able to negotiate.
    • There must be trust, open communication and cooperation.